Early on, I realized I was not really a “going out” person. While I appreciate cannabis and psychedelics, as well as a good show or event, the idea of hanging around and being social for the hell of it just because alcohol consumption is involved has never been my cup of tea.
Like most Americans, I experimented with overconsumption of alcohol young in life, and did not come away from the experience a fan. And while on the very surface level, alcohol can work as a social lubricant, I usually end the night feeling emotionally drained from small talk and with the beginnings of a nasty headache.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I always daydreamed, if social gatherings in the adult world, including networking events, could be hangouts and smoke sessions? Now, in certain parts of the Mile High City, that is not only the case, but an emerging part of Denver cannabis culture.
The first time I attended a networking event at the Marijuana Mansion, I was pleasantly surprised with how much genuine fun I had, and how deep the connections and conversations were, despite the fact that we were all there for business. I met contacts and personal friends I still stay in touch with to this day, not something I can say for any night out at the bar. And instead of stumbling away with a headache to get a pricey Uber, I left happy and full thanks to complimentary Chipotle, having forgone alcohol for a joint and some edibles.
Each room in the Mansion is unique, offering a curated experience as you float through. The bottom floor is mainly an entrance, a main room, dining room, and kitchen, that at most events is a staging area for drinks, smokes, music, and checking in. But the rooms on the second and third floor are each a universe of their own, from a bohemian pad full of throw pillows and giant ashtrays to an old-fashioned, 1820s-esque cigar parlor, to a typical hippie bungalow with beaded doors, beanbags, and day-glo blacklight paint.
As well as being gorgeous and tons of fun to explore when you’re under the influence, the mansion, located in Capitol Hill just above downtown Denver, also has a deep-rooted weed history. It only gained its nickname in the past decade, but it has been the site of many cannabis milestones over the years, including the creation of Amendment 64, the bill that legalized cannabis for recreational use in Colorado.
“Now, the mansion provides a safe space for like-minded people to gather during private events and share how cannabis has helped them, both personally through the countless medical benefits and professionally through the booming billion-dollar business it’s become in a matter of years,” says April Emma, event director for the Marijuana Mansion.
“The mansion serves as a great vehicle for spreading the message that social consumption should be allowed,” adds owner Lisa Leder. “It’s crazy to think you can drink alcohol on almost any given block in this nation, but there are very few places where people can consume cannabis in a social setting. We’ve hosted a wide variety of events here: educational events where brands connect with people in the industry to provide in-depth knowledge about their products and gain feedback. We’ve had holiday parties for cannabis companies where their entire staff can come together for an evening and celebrate another successful year of helping people in our community.”
As a private consumption space, open to the public at other times without consumption on site, the Marijuana Mansion is keeping its secret, speakeasy-esque history of late-night cannabis consumption in dimly lit rooms with strangers alive and well.
At Tetra, the vibe is different. The space is open and vibrant, white and airy, with cozy sofa nooks and a full-scale hangout area on the back porch and in the yard. Touting themselves as “Denver’s premiere cannabis social club” and located in the RiNo (formerly River North) neighborhood just northeast of downtown, the lounge is also Black-owned and located near Five Points, Denver’s historically Black neighborhood.
Floating through an event at Tetra, networking truly is elevated, as the open floor plan lends itself well to plopping down on a couch next to a group who are rolling up and passing it around. Somehow, the space manages to combine the flowy, airy feel of a modern home or office with the cozy familiarity of an urban smoking space.
Tetra has been through a lot since the early days, and has just recently been recognized by both the mayor and the governor in an official ceremony as the first open-to-all consumption space within the city limits. The space earned its local license to operate as a cannabis hospitality lounge from Denver License and Excise in March of this year, and they opened to the public in April.
Since 2018, Tetra has operated as a members-only cannabis smoking lounge, but has been striving to be a public consumption space. Tetra applied and received favorable recommendation from the city to be able to change the currently almost nonexistent landscape of public consumption.
“Cannabis hospitality will likely be the fastest growing sector in the industry over the next couple of years,” owner DeWayne Benjamin tells High Times. “It has the ability to become one of the best business to consumer marketing platforms for brands and companies looking to cultivate a culture within the industry. Hospitality is inclusive in that it encompasses music, art, food, and connection. This kind of cannabis license model can be successful as the industry continues to evolve.”
As the space continues to evolve now that it is open for walk-in consumption, the idea is to bring more specific events to Tetra and expand their offerings.
“We’ll be expanding what we offer to include educational events, industry mixers that encourage networking, and panel discussions that focus on the changes in the industry,” Benjamin says.
The time to skip the after-work happy hour and light up with your friends and colleagues is nigh. In Denver, both Tetra and Marijuana Mansion offer refuge from the daily drudgery of happy hours and boozy, shallow conversations.